The New American Chef

The New American Chef

IACP Finalist - Award

2004 IACP Cookbook Award Finalist

Cooking with the Best of Flavors and Techniques
from Around the World

by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
Photography by Michael Donnelly

(John Wiley & Sons; 2003)


was selected as a Finalist for a 2004 IACP Cookbook Award
as one of the best cookbooks of the year, and appeared on many of the holiday gift lists and/or in the year-end round-ups of the best cookbooks of 2003 by several important journalists, including:

Gael Greene of NEW YORK
B.A. Nilsson of METROLAND
Bart Ripp of THE (Tacoma, WA) NEWS TRIBUNE
Muriel Stevens of THE LAS VEGAS SUN

THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF thoroughly demonstrates that the zeitgeist of modern cooking in this country has shifted to the various ethnic influences that make up our populace.  This glorious work literally sings with the excitement of what is our own culinary make-up:  diversity, passion, exuberance, intrigue, and spice.  You will be well served if you study these pages!”

—Charlie Trotter

“With American enthusiasm, these new ‘lions in the kitchen’ are elevating cooking to a level never attained before in this country.”

—Jacques Pepin

Bursting with insights and recipes from an unprecedented collection of America’s leading culinary authorities, THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF is the first book to share the secrets of cooking with the vast array of global ingredients and techniques at the fingertips of today’s chefs and cooks.

The “incisive, hip writing team” (Publishers Weekly) of Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, winners of the James Beard Award for Best Writing on Food, have brought together dozens of top chefs and cookbook authors including Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Julie Sahni, Nina Simonds, Paula Wolfert, and many others to reveal the essence of ten popular and influential cuisines: Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Moroccan, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese.

Each inspirational chapter reveals a fundamental lesson that one of these cuisines has to offer, whether it’s procuring the best ingredients (Italy), balancing strong flavors and aromatics (Thailand), or using spices (India) and chiles (Mexico) with skill and artistry:

Japan Celebrating the seasons through all the senses
Italy Procuring the best ingredients
Spain Letting ingredients taste of what they are
France Western classical techniques and savoir faire
China Eastern classical techniques and yin-yang balance
India The masterful use of spices
Mexico Lessons from the land where chiles reign supreme
Thailand Balancing strong flavors and aromatics
Vietnam Encouraging tactile and tasteful interaction
Morocco Feasting in comfort with family and friends


Best of all, there are more than 100 recipes to practice and savor including Gazpacho Andaluz from Jose Andres of Jaleo, Rock Candy-Ginger Short Ribs from Michael Tong of Shun Lee Palace, and Vanilla Flan from Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill. Throughout, Michael Donnelly’s exquisite photographs transform the book into a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.

A groundbreaking book comprising a virtual around-the-world cooking school, THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF will make anyone a better cook no matter what they’re cooking.

Demystifies the New American cuisine by gingerly getting you inside your favorite restaurants’ kitchens and taking you out into the world’s colorful fields, markets and villages  showing splendid sociological sensibilities throughout.”

—Glenn Carroll, Lane Professor of Organizations at the Stanford Business School and Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF is a prime example of how the power of a single book can change your cooking. Drawing on a distinguished circle of America’s leading culinary experts, this is the first book to distill their wisdom to guide readers to cook more intuitively. This book provides the essence of each of 10 influential cuisines  ‘celebrating the seasons,’ ‘procuring the best ingredients,’ and more  which will help you hone your gut instinct and guide you through the challenges of cooking with ingredients and techniques from around the world.  Readers will be inspired to intuitively bring forth the sensibilities of native chefs in their own cooking.”

—Laura Day, New York Times bestselling author of Practical Intuition and The Circle: How the Power of a Single Wish Can Change Your Life

THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF is such a beautiful dedication to all the chefs preserving culinary traditions around the world. What a marvel!”

—Alain Ducasse, chef-owner of Alain Ducasse and the first chef ever to hold nine Michelin stars simultaneously

“L.A. power couple Bill Bratton and Rikki Klieman, the police chief and his Court TV wife, joined L.A. Confidential magazine to throw a book party for their friends, kitchen power couple  he cooks; she writes  Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. Their new cookbook is cumbersomely but multiculturally titled THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF: Cooking with the Best of Flavors and Techniques from Around the World. Chef, chief  what’s a vowel’s difference among friends?”

—Patt Morrison, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES Inside Politics

“As Confucius is quoted as saying in Chapter 5, ‘The enjoyment of food is one of the things that contributes to the peace and harmony of a society.’ Indeed, good, healthy food is a main factor in the happiness of a person. Preparing good food is an act of love, which comes through on every page of THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF.”

—Dr. Robert Muller, Retired Asst. Secretary General of the United Nations, Nobel Peace Prize nominee, and author of 6000 Ideas and Dreams for a Better World

Dornenburg and Page (CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, BECOMING A CHEFcollaborate successfully once more, bringing together the international inspirations that today’s chefs draw from.  As unusual, often imported ingredients become more readily available, the authors believe that ‘there is an exciting opportunity for experimentation and exercising creativity.  On the other hand, experimentation  particularly in the hands of an inexperienced chef  can be disastrous.  Dornenburg and Page address this problem by bringing together 10 fundamental international cuisines in one handy volume.  Drawing on the knowledge of the leading exponents of each fare, and liberally sprinkling in quotations, they distill these styles, ingredients and techniques into a philosophy that can guide the chef or the inspired home cook to produce authentic results.  Whether focusing on Japanese or Moroccan cuisines, the authors call for advice upon the likes of such notables as Paula Wolfert, Rick Bayless and Daniel Boulud, who provide not only their expertise, but also their recipes.   Each section is divided into the fundamentals, including a culinary map, flavor palette, ingredients and techniques as well as a suggested reading list from cookbook shop notable Nach Waxman, before finishing with several timeless recipes that provide a basic repertoire.  Most recipes require a certain level of knowledge and competence, but some, such as the clean-tasting Gazpacho Andaluz and the vibrant Chicken Tagine with Prunes, are within reach of any cook.  The finished work is deceptively thorough, [working best] as a guide to the values, tastes and methods that form each cuisine.”


BOOK REPORT A Shortcut to Sophistication: The best books are written with a crystal-clear purpose in mind, and Beard Award-winning writers Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page (BECOMING A CHEF, CHEF’S NIGHT OUT) have really honed in on a crucial subject for THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF ($29.95). Their analysis of the current culinary situation hits the nail on the head. ‘Whereas a young professional cook may have had the opportunity in years past to develop a solid grounding in classic technique (most frequently French) before branching off into multiethnic experimentation, today the same cook has to work from day one with an extraordinarily wide variety of ingredients and techniques,’ they write. ‘The widespread availability of international ingredients has outpaced our ability to assimilate them into our daily cooking. This represents both a major opportunity and a major challenge for the New American chef.’  Few full service restaurant operators or, especially, restaurant critics would argue against Dornenburg’s and Page’s thesis.  This book is designed to fill the ever-widening information gap. And while it seems like an impossibly large topic to cover,this clever duo devised a format that distills the essentials of 10 influential cuisines (Chinese, French, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Moroccan, Spanish, Thai, Vietnamese) into digestible lessons for the reader.  Each chapter begins with a lengthy profile of a particular country’s cuisine, with key fundamentals spelled out via interviews with respected chefs and cookbook authors. Then come recipes (one hundred in all for the book) that enables the reader to tackle the lessons just learned.  Dozens of celebrity chefs dot the roster of contributors.  ‘We’ve narrowed down the gist of what you need to know about each cuisine in order to retain its spirit in your cooking,’ Dornenburg and Page say. ‘In thirty pages per cuisine, we can make you feel like you have just taken an immersion course in that cuisine and our experts will enable you to better reproduce its food and its spirit in your kitchen.’  What a godsend.  This book will be of value to just about anyone who works in the back of the house or write a menu cooked there.”


THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF tackles culinary confusion: Making sense of the jumble of culinary styles and perspectives that populate the restaurant marketplace these days seems like an impossible task. Every chef, every restaurant seems emboldened to maintain its own unique ‘take’ on food. Attempts to tack working labels onto this polyglot babble of flavors and techniques has, at best, resulted in strange phrasings like ‘Franco-Japanese’ and ‘Floribbean.’ A team of two young authors has, however, developed an interesting way of conceptualizing cookery, one that just might bring order to all this confusion. In their book THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page describe what they call the ‘Culinary Compass.’ It’s a scheme that sorts out culinary thinking along two primary dimensions. The first Dornenburg and Page label ‘West to East.’ It represents the spectrum of the world’s traditional cuisines  Japanese, Chinese, French, Italian, Mexican, and others. Each of these cuisines has, of course, evolved an array of ingredients, techniques and traditions that have been validated by centuries of practice. Dornenburg and Page point out that most chefs have a traditional cuisine with which they’re most comfortable, either as a result of nurture  they grew up on it  or by choice, perhaps as the result of a formative professional experience. That cuisine becomes a point of reference, a native culinary language, that becomes an integral part of the chef’s personal style. The second dimension the Culinary Compass uses to categorize cooking perspectives is something Dornenburg and Page call ‘point of view.’ That spectrum captures the spirit with which a culinarian reveres  or defies  tradition. At one extreme a chef may be a purist, using only the most authentic of ingredients and techniques. It’s an approach that pays homage to cooking regionally and seasonally, respecting the ‘rules’ that arose from trial and error that spanned generations. Experimentation is this dimension’s opposite extreme. It’s the state of affairs in which chefs defy convention and ignore established harmonies. The results can be sometimes breathtaking, occasionally disastrous. The lodestar of experimentation is to create what chef Jean-Georges Vongenrichten, who is a leading practitioner of the philosophy, describes as ‘the new flavors of the future.’ Dornenburg and Page also identify a third dimension, one they characterize as measuring a dish’s effectiveness at being ‘delicious.’ At its very best, they suggest, food should not only please the tongue, but move the heart. THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. “


“Another remarkable book by Dornenburg and Page! Through numerous interviews with experts, THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF provides insights into the basic concepts of ten different cuisines. This book is enlightening for both the amateur and the professional chef.”

—Karen & David Waltuck, co-owners, Chanterelle in New York City

THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF is a wonderful book…It’s already been cited as one of the year’s best cookbooks…A remarkable achievement…[by] two culinarians who have really put themselves on the map.”

—Pierre Wolfe, host, America’s Dining & Travel Guide

“The fifth book by husband-and-wife team Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF addresses how essential international flavors and techniques are in today’s American kitchen. The authors believe that the widespread accessibility of exotic ingredients and desire to learn authentic cooking techniques has actually outpaced American cooks’ understanding of how to successfully integrate both ingredients and skills in cooking. As a result, Dornenburg and Page interviewed [dozens of] chefs who give lessons on cooking techniques and cultural history and recommend ingredients in Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, and Moroccan cuisine….Chefs can benefit from learning what is unique and important about each cuisine, and then practice recipes exemplifying the above.”

—Melanie Wolkoff, CHEF magazine

It’s hard to say what makes authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg so readable:  Their informed delivery of cooking lore, culinary history and explanation of techniques?  Or is it the pleasure of getting inside the heads and hearts of some of America’s great chefs and sommeliers?  Why go out to eat if you can stay at home and gorge on THE NEW AMERICAN CHEF, in which Page and Dornenburg tell the story of 10 international cuisines through the instruction and techniques of U.S.-based experts in each type of cooking?  The duo has collected recipes, techniques, quotes and insights from pros like Masa Takayama of Ginza Sushi-ko, Mario Batali, Daniel Boulud, Rick and Deann Bayless and others.  It’s required reading for aspiring chefs and latent foodies.”


“Innovation firmly rooted in tradition is creating the ‘new American’ cuisine. This cookbook serves up the secrets of 10 popular global cuisines, inviting experienced chefs and adventurous amateurs on a virtual journey through the kitchens that inspire the best chefs in America today. Jacques Pepin, internationally renowned chef, refers to the husband-and-wife team of Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page as ‘lions in the kitchen,’ who are raising cooking to a new level in America. Winners of a James Beard Award for Best Writing on Food in 1996 for BECOMING A CHEF, this couple has also enjoyed success with their other publications including CULINARY ARTISTRY, DINING OUT, and CHEF’S NIGHT OUT….This book is a tremendous resource for chefs and amateurs alike and has a textbook quality that will make you return to it confidently time and again.”

—Karen Wright, NORTH SHORE NEWS (British Columbia)